By: Rick Contreras, Travel Consultant
My wife and I recently took the Best of California tour with Insight. This was a beautiful trip and a wonderful experience for us. We arrived in San Francisco and took the shuttle to the Omni Hotel. The hotel was in a great location, surrounded by shops and restaurants. We met our tour director (Larry) and our traveling companions the first evening. We all hit it off immediately. We then enjoyed a light dinner and a couple of drinks, and turned in for the evening.
The following morning, we boarded the bus and explored the city. This included an amazing walk across the golden gate bridge, as well as a delicious meal in China town. We learned a lot about the history of San Francisco and how the city developed.
Our next stop was Sonoma. Upon arrival, we took a tour of the Benziger family winery. We took a short tram tour around the fields, and had an opportunity to go into the caves that stored the barrels. We tasted many different types of wines that day.
Next, we headed to Yosemite National Park. The ride there was an experience itself. It was amazing to see the bus navigate through the narrow roads. Once we arrived at the park, we decided to take a stroll around and soak it all in. We walked a trail that led to a beautiful waterfall. The cabins that we stayed in were located very close to the waterfall, and the view was magnificent!
Then it was on to Monterey. We drove along Pebble Beach and even stopped at the golf course. We were able to take many great pictures. It was fun to have the option to select from several restaurants that evening. We had a great time with some of the other travelers and really got to know each other that day.
After Monterey, we headed to Santa Barbara. This part included an included excursion to Hearst Castle. The size of the castle is incredible. We were fascinated with hearing about all the famous people that came to visit. We were able to walk through the garden, go to each room, and even watch footage of the Hearst family spending time there. Once we arrived in Santa Barbara, we relaxed at our beachfront hotel.
Up next on the itinerary was Los Angeles. We hit a little traffic as we were arriving into Los Angeles, but it was all worth it. We stayed at the JW Marriott at LA live. Many people were hanging out there. We walked across to the Staples center to see all the statues. One of the highlights of the trip was the excursion to Hollywood. We were able to take a private tour of the Dolby Theater where the Oscars are held. My wife thoroughly enjoyed getting to walk on stage and see the dressing rooms for the stars.
Overall, this trip was amazing. The deluxe hotels, great food, wonderful people all contributed to the experience. I do strongly recommend this tour to anyone that is looking to visit California.